Rockford men’s water polo continued its post season run this past weekend as they traveled to Grand Haven as the number one seed in the West Region Water Polo Championship. On Friday evening the Rams faced off against the Panthers of West Ottawa. The Rams Mike Arend won the opening sprint and the team never looked back. Senior goal tender Corey Fase gave Rockford an emotional lift by blocking a Panther 5-meter penalty shot at the five minute mark. Senior 2-meter hole setter Grant Beach scored four goals in the first five minutes of play, Arend added one and junior Reese Patino added another as Rockford jumped out to a 6-0 first quarter lead. In the second half junior hole setter Jacob Davis hit the net twice. Fase tended a shut-out in the two periods he was in goal as the Rams went on to dominate West Ottawa 11-1.
After the game Beach said, “ After a long schedule it is nice to see our hard work and dedication pay off as we play on into the post season.” On Saturday morning Rockford went up against the Jenison Wildcats who defeated the Bulldogs of Grandville Friday evening.
Jenison was focused and intense scoring first on a 5-meter penalty shot at the five minute mark. This fired the attention of Rockford who would go on to score the next five goals. Senior Justin Hulsebus sparked the Rams in the first half with three scores from the point. Rockford entered the half with a 5-2 lead. In the third period Rockford pulled away behind junior Jacob Davis’s three goals and Arends two. Five separate Rockford players scored at least wo goals as the Rams proved too much for the Wildcats swimming away with a 13-4 victory.
The West Region Championship game pitted number one ranked Rockford against number two Hudsonville. Arend won the sprint to start the game and the two teams settled into an intense, emotional and well played first period. The first two scores of the contest came as Davis found success from the wing followed by Beach scoring from the hole set one minute later. In the second quarter junior Stephen Cress hit the net twice as the Rams pushed to a 6-2 lead at half. Corey Fase had an outstanding half in the net as the Eagles repeatedly fired on the goal only to be stymied by Fase. The only two goals Fase allowed from the Eagles came on Kody Brinks 5-meter penalty shots. The second half of the contest was intensely competitive with strong play from both teams fighting for momentum. The Rams slowly gained the emotional advantage behind two hole set goals from Beach who notched four in the contest. When the buzzer rang Rockford captured the title 10-6, maintained their unbeaten record and move on to the state tournament with a number one ranking. Regional tournament leaders for the Rockford Rams were Beach with 10 goals, Hulsebus with six assists and 12 steals and Nick Willison with 12 steals.
After the awarding of the trophy All Western Regional announcements were made. Fase was honored with second team all region. First team all region honors were awarded to Beach, Hulsebus and Willison.